Jan did not know why he learned, why he loved the lessons and the teacher, why he obeyed so swiftly, or why praise filled him to the throat with glad, swelling pride, while the withholding of it, or an expression of disapproval, sent his flag down between his hocks, and his spirits with it, to zero. Jan did not know, but he was merely exemplifying a law as old as the hills. The Israelites found out that righteousness was happiness, and that no joy existed outside of it. Righteousness—do ye right—is another word for discipline. The proudest and the happiest people in the world are the best disciplined people. Perfect discipline is righteousness for righteousness’ sake. According to his lights, obedience to Dick was righteousness for Jan. Hence his joyous pride in the progress of his education. No form of self-indulgence could yield Jan (or any one else) a tithe of the satisfaction he derived from this subordination of himself.
His greatest trial, and, by that token, once he really understood it, his greatest source of pride, came in the severe lesson of being sent home in the early stages of a morning’s walk. First it was from the garden gate; then from the orchard gate in the lane; and later from the open Down, perhaps half a mile or more away. He would be gamboling to and fro with Finn, exulting in the joy of out of doors, and swift and unanswerable would come the order to return home and wait. Finn was to go on and enjoy the ramble. Jan, for no fault, was to go home alone to wait. And in the end he did it with no pause for protest or hesitation, and at length with no regret, all that being swallowed up by his immense pride in his own understanding and perfect subordination.
He might have to wait ten minutes or an hour or more on the door-step at Nuthill; but it was notable that he never went unrewarded for this particular performance of duty. He was always specially commended and caressed for this; and he never altogether lost a ramble by it, for Dick would make a point of taking him out again, either at once or at some time during the same day. It was a stiff lesson to learn, this; and that was why, once learned, the practice of it was highly stimulating to Jan’s self-respect and dignity of bearing.
Upon the whole, in the course of those three crowded weeks of holiday happiness and courting Dick Vaughan managed to pass on to Jan a quite appreciable simulacrum of all the benefits which had made so markedly for his own development during the preceding eighteen months. And most notably was Jan developed in the process.
“We gave Jan a good physique, didn’t we, Betty?” said the Master, admiringly; “but in three weeks this wizard has made a North-west Mounted Policeman of him, absolutely fully equipped, bar speech and a uniform!”
“Oh, well,” replied Dick, with a laugh, “we don’t reckon to be very much as speakers out West, you know; and for uniform, Jan’s black and iron-gray coat is good tough wear, and will outlast the best of tunics, and turn snow or hail or rain a deal better. Won’t it, Jan?”